Co-Reg 101: Part 2

Part 1 of this series explained the various forms of co-registration and lead generation. Today, I’ll continue the back-to-school education by describing how a quality online lead generation campaign should be run.

If you were paying attention during the last class, you should know by now there are a variety of approaches to co-registration/online lead generation, and as much confusion about best practices as there are approaches. In the interest of clarity, what follows is a template for the purest approach to the process, one that ensures optimal Web site monetization, user experience, data confidentiality, and high-quality leads for marketers.

First and foremost, consumer leads should always be opt-in only. That means the user must explicitly choose to be contacted with additional information from a given advertiser. When the user explicitly chooses an offer, the result is a happy user, a happy Web site, and a happy advertiser. When the user is tricked or forced into opting in to an offer through pre-checked boxes or incentivized offers, the result is an unhappy user who may never return to the Web site, and a poor, if not worthless, lead for the advertiser.

In order to determine which offers should be displayed, Web sites should pass user demographic and geographic information to a qualified lead generation provider in real time. All the data are then verified and validated. The lead-gen provider should then utilize the data to match the specific user to advertisers seeking that set of criteria (say, one of my personal favorite demographic groups, single women age 25+ living in major metropolitan areas).

Once a pool of all offers that can be shown to the specific user is created, a quality lead-gen firm should determine which ones will generate the most revenue for the Web site, while at the same time generating a lead of sufficient quality for the advertiser. Further, a co-registration campaign is a secondary source of income for a Web site. It should never overshadow or complicate the site’s primary focus. Publishers should be able to dictate how many offers they’re willing to display, and where to display them. If a lead-gen provider doesn’t enable its Web site partners to achieve the proper balance between generating ancillary revenue and maintaining integrity and quality of user experience, that lead-gen provider won’t be in business for long.

In order to opt-in to an offer, the user should be required to take some sort of affirmative action. “Tricking” users into opting in does no one any good in the long run. Usually, this consists of checking a box that’s displayed with the offer, and receiving an e-mail from the advertiser confirming the user’s interest in the advertiser’s products or services. Users should never be required to select an offer. After selecting an offer, the user should immediately continue to the next step in the site’s registration process. Upon this submission, the site will check to see if an opt-in has occurred. If it has, this information will be passed on securely and immediately.

Some of you may have found these Co-Reg 101 columns overly-simplistic, but I think we can agree there are plenty of people out there running online lead generation campaigns the wrong way. The back-to-school season seems an ideal time to share some fundamental advice on the right way of doing things. Like any other industry, the cream of the crop of online lead-gen providers will ultimately rise to the top, but the sooner all of the players in the space adhere to some basic, common-sense practices, the better the industry will be viewed by the rest of the business world. That means more business for all of us.

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